18) Stone Baby

By Manuel Royal
May 28, 2020 · 497 words · 2 minutes

[Gretel Bosch; fourth entry.]

May 31, 2006

Aggie Kleug was a big woman. I wasn't surprised to hear she lost her life in a three-legged race. Not a coronary, though -- it was another cannon incident. (That was a bad Founders' Day for a lot of people, not just her. They almost stopped doing the Eighty Years War living history thing after that. But the kids loved it.)

I used to like to poke around in there a little. I felt something in Aggie's peritoneal cavity. Do you know what it was? It was a lithopedion.

Sometime during the Truman administration, Aggie'd had an ectopic pregnancy. Fetus died at let's say six months along, based on my estimate. Fetus, too large to be absorbed, was slowly calcified inside Aggie's ample abdomen. Unborn, undiagnosed, unmissed for 35 years while her son Dietger (the one that didn't die inside her) grew up to handle the books at Blackgall Creamery.

I was young and still had ethics. (This was only '83.) I called Vern Dorn, and he came over and smiled like Father Christmas when he saw the stone baby. And nothing happened officially, but he had me put the lithopedion in a box and he gave it to Dietger Kleug.

Dietger took his brother or sister home and had it sawn in two, mounted in clear Lucite blocks. Bookends. I don't know how that could possibly be legal, but in 1983 in Donnetown, if you held the books for Blackgall, you did what you wanted, when you wanted to.

It was just me that day at Bosch & Sons. Papa and the boys were out getting blitzed (I always volunteered to work on Founder's Day. I didn't drink then.) Vern Dorn took my notes and told me not to tell anyone. And I didn't, ever. I had some awe of the M.E. and followed his instructions, right up until a few years later when he was begging me to stop cutting and I didn't stop. But now it's just me and you, Diary, and Mr. John Walker here.

Speaking of diaries and such. Dan Cant's personal journal said the Kleug will was one of the oddest he'd ever seen. No details.

A couple of years later Dietger's internal carotid blew out like a rusty pipe and drowned his brain in blood. I went to pick up the body and sneak a peek at his bisected calcified sibling. I took the bookends down and just let the World Book Encyclopedia spill off the shelf.

I couldn't see much internal anatomy; you usually can't. But there was a little round dot of gold showing in the middle of each half. Right in the thorax. I'd guess the broken-off end of a gold hatpin, circa 1948. So we've got a fetus undiagnosed and unmentioned, but maybe not truly unknown.

If you can figure out what the truth is. Shit like that came up all the time on that job, and I miss it sometimes. I can barely cut a stack of pancakes lately.

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